Purdue News

September 28, 2006

Motorcycle campaign drives safety message to 'involve you'

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Motorcycle safety awareness for both motorcyclists and drivers of cars and trucks is the primary goal of a new health campaign designed by a Purdue University professor and her students.

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"Motorcycle safety really involves everyone, not just motorcyclists," says Marifran Mattson, an associate professor of communication who studies health campaigns and was injured in a motorcycle accident in 2004. "Our campaign team is targeting riders about the importance of safety gear, proper licensing, training and speed. But the team also is devoted to informing other motorists about what they can do to keep our roads safe and reduce the number of motorcycle accidents."

The campaign, Motorcycle Safety at Purdue, is working with American Bikers Aimed Toward Education, Purdue's football team, Greater Lafayette CityBus, Action Motor Sports, University Bookstore and Follett's Bookstore. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday (Oct. 3), representatives from the Motorcycle Safety at Purdue Coalition will distribute safety information at Purdue's Memorial Mall. The event also coincides with Purdue Student Government's Health and Safety Day.

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Motorcycle safety posters can be seen in the community, including inside CityBus buses. These posters were designed to remind motorists to watch for motorcycles and to encourage riders to wear the appropriate safety gear. The football-related poster shows a football player wearing motorcycle and football gear with the message, "!Gear Up Purdue! Whether Riding a Motorcycle or Playing College Football — Gear Up and Be Safe!"

Nationally, more than 4,000 motorcyclists died and 76,000 were injured in crashes during 2004. In Indiana, motorcyclists are 21 times more likely than those in cars and trucks to die in a crash, Mattson says. In 2005 there were 100 motorcycle crashes in Tippecanoe County that resulted in 68 injuries and seven fatalities, according to Purdue's Center for the Advancement of Transportation Safety. Riders under the age of 30 and over 40 are more likely to be involved in accidents that result in injuries or fatalities, Mattson says.

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"Some of these accidents even result in injuries for automobile drivers," Mattson says. "Also, more than 50 percent of accidents are attributed to the fault of the automobile driver. Attentive driving by watching out for motorcycles can help reduce the number of accidents."

Safety tips for riders, other motorists, and riders' family members and friends can be found on the campaign's Web site at https://www.itinvolvesyou.com.

Mattson and her students began creating the campaign in fall 2005 by researching motorcycle safety and conducting focus groups with riders, motorists, and riders' family members and friends about community concerns regarding motorcycle safety. Mattson has incorporated aspects of campaign planning in her undergraduate and graduate health and organizational communication classes. A core group of students also has formed a student organization with the same name.

In addition to the community partners, the Motorcycle Safety at Purdue organization has received funding from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, the Office of Engagement and the College of Liberal Arts.

The Department of Communication is housed in the College of Liberal Arts.

Writer: Amy Patterson Neubert, (765) 494-9723, apatterson@purdue.edu

Sources: Marifran Mattson, (765) 494-7596, mmattson@purdue.edu

Andrew King, Motorcycle Safety at Purdue student media coordinator, ajking@purdue.edu

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu


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